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NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

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NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

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NFL POWER RANKINGS

For the first time, The Appalachian Sports Desk will be releasing collaborative weekly NFL Power Rankings. Each Wednesday, The Appalachian sports reporters will be ranking NFL teams that will be averaged out to determine their rankings. Each writer will cover 2-3 teams and give their take on them.

 

1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) (Last week: NR)

After winning 24 of their last 28 games, the Kansas City Chiefs find themselves in this category once again. For those who question how good the Chiefs are, it’s time for you to step aside. Trading up in this year’s draft to select former Toledo running back Kareem Hunt, Kansas City took another major step from playoff potential to championship potential. Hunt has paid dividends in the backfield for Kansas City, averaging a staggering 7.6 yards per carry to go along with eight receptions for 126 yards. Kansas City has always had a dominant defense, and even with the loss of Pro-Bowl safety Eric Berry, the Chiefs remain strong on defensive side of the ball. The Chiefs are 2-0 with wins over two outstanding opponents. Soon enough, more people will hop on Kansas City’s bandwagon. -Tyler Hotz 

2. Atlanta Falcons (2-0) (Last week: NR)

Atlanta extinguished the Super Bowl hangover theory for now by starting the season 2-0. The Falcons’ explosive defense proved to be too much for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his Packers, winning 34-23. The Brotherhood under Steve Sarkisian, former Alabama offensive coordinator, continues to flow beautifully with Julio Jones and company. Atlanta led the league in virtually every offensive category last season. However, the defense must continue to prove the critics that they can hold onto a lead. We will see how the Dirty Birds can fair this week at 2-0 Detroit with the absence of Vic Beasley Jr.’s dominate presence due to a hamstring tear. Beasley had a league-best 15.5 sacks last year. -Shane Harvell 

3. Oakland Raiders (2-0) (Last week: NR)

Boy, are these guys fun to watch. The Raiders have been in the top five of the power rankings since the season began and it does not look like they will fall out anytime soon. I don’t want to look too much into Sunday’s game against the Jets, however, the excitement for this franchise is back. This past game, everyone got in on the fun. Crabtree dominated the Jets’ D scoring three touchdowns on the day. He consistently looks to be Derek Carr’s top target. The defense also look great, only allowing 20 points and 271 yards, also picking up two fumbles on the day. The Raiders look to be real contenders this year and will be near the top of the rankings for most of the year barring any unforeseen circumstances. -Aman Hyrams 

4. New England Patriots (1-1) (Last week: NR)

After a disappointing start to the regular season, the Patriots got back to their winning ways. Tom Brady did not look like a 40-year-old quarterback, he looked like a contender for the MVP race. Brady picked apart the Saints defense throwing touchdown passes to just about anyone. Although Patriots’ star tight end Rob Gronkowski was injured, he has said that it is nothing serious and looks to play next week. -Michael Pigg

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) (Last week:NR)

Going into this season, there were many question marks about what the future holds for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is in the twilight of career. Star running back Le’Veon Bell had an offseason holdout from training camp. And maybe most concerning of all, the Pittsburgh defense again had questions in the secondary. After the first two games, the Steelers have only slightly answered some of these offseason questions. Sitting at 2-0, the Steelers have a soft schedule early in the season, including games against teams like the Browns, Bears and the Jaguars in the first five weeks. Dominating the Vikings and backup quarterback Case Keenum on Sunday was a start, but they will need statement wins over contenders to elevate them into the higher echelon of Super Bowl contenders. -Tyler Hotz 

6. Denver Broncos (2-0) (Last week: NR)

The Broncos may be one of the sleeper teams to win the Super Bowl considering their hot start. Their defense is loaded with talent and their offense is much better than what most people probably expected. Trevor Siemian has been lights out so far at quarterback. He has rushed for a touchdown and thrown for a few early on this season. Look for him to have a breakout year as the starter for the Broncos. Combine a powerful defense and a dynamic offense and you get a win against the Chargers on a blocked field goal and a blow out of the Cowboys, 42-17. The Broncos are looking to be the team to best in the AFC. -Eric Jackson 

7. Green Bay Packers (1-1) (Last week: NR)

After a strong showing all around in week one against the Seahawks, the Packers defense returned to their midseason form in week two: hot garbage. Watching this game, I seriously thought my high school football team could move the ball on these guys. Sure, they had some injuries come up during the game but that is no excuse. “Defense wins championships” and the Packers defense is in no form to stop any NFL offense. The real test is next week against a Bengals team that hasn’t even scored a touchdown this season. Look for rookie Kevin King to get the start at cornerback this week as well. -Taylor Story 

8. Detroit Lions (2-0) (Last week: NR)

Detroit has looked to be one of the better, more well-rounded teams in the NFL so far in 2017, playing well in both of their games and winning over the Cardinals and Giants. Fresh off one of the best seasons of his career and signing the heftiest contract in football, quarterback Matthew Stafford picked up right where he left off last year. He has passed for six touchdowns and completed 71 percent of his passes on his way to a strong 114.6 QBR. Rookie wide receiver Kenny Golladay has also raised eyebrows across the league, scoring a pair of touchdowns, including a 45-yard bomb Golladay laid out into the end zone for. The Lions’ defense has played well also, tied for second in the league in both interceptions with four and forced fumbles with three. They will take their biggest test of the year Sunday when they host the Atlanta Falcons. -Silas Albright 

9. Dallas Cowboys (1-1) (Last week: NR)

OK … don’t freak out. The Cowboys are still going to win the Super Bowl this year. It was just a really bad week two … REALLY bad. Dak Prescott played like the sophomore quarterback he is. He threw some bad passes that everyone wants back, a couple of interceptions and couldn’t find confidence in the pocket. The offensive line is still the best front line in the NFL, they just simply got out worked by an underrated Broncos defensive line. On the defensive side of the ball, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Nothing is broken. Every defensive position works well for the Cowboys and does their job … except the secondary, and that is completely messed up. The Cowboys have not had a strong secondary since Deion Sanders. I have no advice on this except to start over! The current secondary for Dallas is like flipping a coin. They’re either good or real bad. And like a coin, they get damaged every time they hit the ground.  -Noah Gerringer

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) (Last week: NR)

The Buccaneers are pegged by many to be a playoff team as Jameis Winston’s ascent continues and their defense slowly improves. Part of getting to the playoffs is beating teams you are supposed to beat and that is what they did by crushing the Bears. Chicago is by no means a good team, but the Bucs beat them in every way possible. The run game looked solid even without two-time pro-bowler Doug Martin. The perceived weakness was their secondary, but the unit put on a strong showing on Sunday, helping the team be one of the most well-rounded squads in the league. The Bucs will be one of two teams playing 16 games straight, but a dominating win is a good way to start a season. This is a good team ready to step up, very comparable to last year’s Oakland Raiders. They will not win the Super Bowl, but they will ruin a lot of teams’ weeks. -Ian Taylor 

11. Baltimore Ravens (2-0) (Last week: NR)

A lot of people ruled out the Ravens to start the season, citing poor running game, questions marks at receiver and on defense, and the age-old question, “Is Joe Flacco elite?” Through their first two games of the season, the Ravens have come out with rage, going 2-0 with solid wins against the Cincinnati Bengals on the road and against the Cleveland Browns in their home opener. Javorius Allen and Terrance West anchor a productive run game, Joe Flacco has completed over 66 percent of his passes and newest Raven Jeremy Maclin is adjusting well, posting six receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns through his first two games. But the real story is the defense, which has sacked the quarterback eight times, forced three fumbles and racked up a historic eight interceptions, one by rookie linebacker Tyus Bowser. The Ravens have played themselves into conversations in these early weeks, but the question is, can they keep up their defensive production? Their game against Jacksonville on Sunday, already interesting because of their quarterback problems and rookie running back, will be held in London, adding even more fuel to the fire. -Brooks Maynard

12. Carolina Panthers (2-0) (Last week: NR)

Following a dismal season after the Panthers’ Super Bowl loss to the Denver Broncos, Carolina looks to be on the right track to a successful 2017 season. Starting 2-0 ties them at the top of the NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons, but even with a 2-0 start, the Panthers have some noticeable concerns for the remainder of this year’s campaign. Using their first two picks in the draft to select former Stanford running back Christian McCaffery and Ohio State running back/receiver Curtis Samuel, the Panthers stressed all offseason the new, explosive potential their offense had gained. After two games and only 32 points scored, the Panthers offense is revealing more flaws than strengths. To make matters worse, these pitiful offensive performances came against the Bills and the 49ers, both of whom will not be anywhere near playoff contention this season. While the Panthers defense is showing signs of former dominance, Cam Newton and this new offensive scheme need to get it going quickly. -Tyler Hotz

13. Tennessee Titans (1-1) (Last week: NR)

The Titans are a team that are looking to push for a wildcard spot, but after Sunday’s win against the Jaguars, they should be looking for the AFC South crown. It’s a wide-open division that might be the most chaotic one in the NFL. The Titans can realistically go 9-7 or 10-6, good enough to win the South. They had an impressive showing against a Jaguars team with a rock-solid defense and Derrick Henry seems to be taking the lead in Tennessee’s “Thunder and Thunder” run game. The Titans also carry very underrated defense and special teams units, and one of the league’s premier offensive lines. All of that combined with a quarterback who’s allergic to turnovers is recipe for a team that can grind out enough wins for a playoff appearance. -Ian Taylor 

14. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) (Last week: NR)

Carson Wentz is coming off an outstanding week one performance against the Washington Redskins; the problem is, he faced the Kansas City Chiefs this week. A close game in the first half and not a whole lot going for either offense. Towards the fourth quarter, the Eagles broke down, ultimately having Wentz running for his life and allowing six sacks in the game which would lead to a 27-20 Chiefs win. The receivers looked good throughout the game with Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor playing well. But Wentz is not elusive enough to run around all day, so he will be needing some help if the Eagles want to be competitive late in games. It is also worth noting Wentz lead the team in rushing with 55 yards and LeGarrette Blount had zero, that is all. -Taylor Story 

15. Seattle Seahawks (1-1) (Last week: NR)

Seattle is off to an utterly rocky 1-1 start to the 2017 season. The offense is averaging only 10.5 points thus far thanks to a struggling offensive line. At least Russell Wilson is deemed to be fully healthy this year. Offensively, Seattle must mix and match in order to create opportunities for big plays downfield. Even the aging “Legion of Boom” can only hold their own for so long. The Seahawks’ ugly 12-9 victory over the 49ers last week raises a major cause for concern in regards to the playoff picture. However, the only competition in the NFC West is the Arizona Cardinals without David Johnson and Jared Goff’s LA Rams. Seattle’s next test is on road this week in Nashville to face off with an improved 1-1 Titans team under third-year quarterback Marcus Mariota at the helm. -Shane Harvell

16. New York Giants (0-2) (Last week: NR)

The Giants’ offensive line and running game is non-existent. Eli Manning has the longest streak in the NFL in regular season games with 201 but with how bad the offensive line looks this season, don’t be surprised if that streak comes to an end at the age of 36 with all the hits he has been and will be taking this season. Odell Beckham Jr. returned against the Lions, but the Giants still only managed one touchdown. The defense is starting to get banged up with injuries being on the field so long, and the season doesn’t look so bright now sitting at 0-2. Who knows how their Monday night game would have gone had Brandon Marshall not dropped a big potential first down in the first quarter? -Jason Huber 

17. Minnesota Vikings (1-1) (Last week: NR)

After an impressive week one for the Vikings, a key injury to starting quarterback Sam Bradford ended any chance they had at beating the Steelers. Bradford, who is known to be injured all the time, has not been able to play a full season. The Vikings have explosive weapons such as rookie Dalvin Cook and receiver Stefon Diggs, but they just do not have any consistency at the quarterback position.  -Michael Pigg

18. Miami Dolphins (1-0) (Last week: NR)

Miami is following up a playoff appearance with horrible luck to start a season. Losing starters in Ryan Tannehill and linebacker Raekwon McMillan for the season, being forced to play 16 games in a row including a trip to London only to be followed by starting linebacker Lawrence Timmons going AWOL before the season opener in Los Angeles. The good news is that Miami has Adam Gase at the helm and a roster full of good players. Gase got the head coaching job because he stopped Jay Cutler from getting in his own way back in Chicago and he did the same thing against the Chargers. Jay Ajayi put up over 120 against a stingy run defense and is expected to get a lot more carries for the rest of the season. This is going to be a long season for Miami, but a 1-0 start on the road to shake the rust off is a good way to begin. -Ian Taylor

19. Los Angeles Rams (1-1) (Last week: NR)

The Rams faced off against the Redskins Sunday and seemed to take a step back this week. After a strong performance last week, the Rams were dominated by the Redskins running game. Kelly, Perine and Thompson combined for over 200 yards rushing, including a 60-yard scamper by Thompson. It took a while for the Rams to get going on offense, not scoring until the second quarter. Goff is getting more and more comfortable each week, which is why the Rams are not at the bottom of the Power Rankings. Gurley had another strong game Sunday, looking like himself from his rookie season. -Aman Hyrams 

20. Washington Redskins (1-1) (Last week: NR)

The Redskins have shown flashes, but they aren’t a playoff contender … yet. Franchise tagged quarterback Kirk Cousins hasn’t performed as well as expected. So far, he has thrown just two touchdowns and an interception while compiling a lackluster 61.2 completion percentage. The running back corp, however, has looked impressive. In their victory over the stingy Los Angeles Rams defense, they rushed for 229 yards. Chris Thompson broke loose for a 61-yard score en route to a two TD, 77 yard rushing performance on just three touches. However, it’s been Rob Kelley and rookie Samaje Perine splitting the majority of the carries. Kelley has been more productive, racking up 108 yards on 22 attempts, while Perine has only gained 67 yards on 21 attempts. If Cousins can involve new-addition wide receiver Terrelle Pryor and explosive tight end Jordan Reed more, this Redskin offense has the chance to become one of the more potent in the NFC. -Silas Albright

 21. Los Angeles Chargers (0-2) (Last week: NR)

It is pretty sad when you’re unable to sell out a 30,000 seat stadium. It also doesn’t help when you start the season 0-2 and miss a potential game-winning field goal. That’s the Chargers for you. Aside from playing close and only losing by an average of 2.5 points the first two weeks, quarterback Philip Rivers and first-year head coach Anthony Lynn have not done a great job so far impressing LA fans in their first season in California. With a question mark at kicker, and a tough schedule to come, the Chargers need to figure out a new plan of how to attract some fans. -Jason Huber

 22. Buffalo Bills (1-1) (Last week: NR)

The Bills were involved in a low scoring game with the Carolina Panthers that did not end in their favor. The future looks bright for the Bills, with new head coach Sean McDermott bringing in a new defensive attitude. The problem with the Bills is their less-than-average offense that struggles to score at times. If the Bills have any chance of making the playoffs, Tyrod Taylor and explosive running back LeSean McCoy must be able to make plays. -Michael Pigg 

23. Houston Texans (1-1) (Last week: NR)

The Texans struggled in week one against the Jaguars. Their offensive line was subpar in a surprising blow out. On a short turnaround, Bill O’Brien gave the QB reigns to rookie Deshaun Watson, who at first seemed to struggle but eventually got into a little groove. The rookie ran for a 49-yard touchdown that would win the game against the Bengals. As the season moves along, look for the progression of Watson into a star. He has the talent on offense, but not the offensive line. In order to succeed, the Texans must fix that issue. –Eric Jackson

24. Arizona Cardinals (1-1) (Last week: NR)

Not only does David Johnson’s freak wrist injury hurt the Cardinals’ offense as a whole, it hurts numerous fantasy owners who used their first pick to draft the breakout stud. Johnson did in fact undergo a successful wrist surgery this week and is expected to miss two to three months of action. The Cardinals squeaked out a narrow victory last week over the Colts 16-13 in overtime. The running game was almost nonexistent without Johnson in the lineup. The Red Birds averaged a whopping 3.3 yards per rushing attempt against a cellar dweller defense such as the Colts. Chris Johnson lead the team with 44 rushing yards on 11 carries. Undefeated Father Time may be creeping up on 37-year-old Carson Palmer as he takes the brunt of the criticism. The 1-1 Cards will have a rather tough task in righting the ship this week against Dallas. -Shane Harvell

25. New Orleans Saints (0-2) (Last week: NR)

Remember when the Saints got in trouble for having bounties on players’ heads? Yeah, their head coach Sean Payton took the blame for it all. Well, maybe they should start doing that again, or at least something. In week one, Sam Bradford had his way with the Saints defense. SAM BRADFORD. Now, I’m not saying Bradford is a horrible quarterback by any means, but he is nothing the Saints haven’t seen all offseason in Drew Brees or backup QB Luke McCown. Cam Newton is sitting at home in Charlotte excited because he knows he gets to run this week against the Saints. Brees is doing all he can on the offensive side of the ball with the weapons he has left. Ever since the Saints ridiculously traded Jimmy Graham away, their offense has relied purely on what the 6-foot-nothing Brees can do – and that’s not much when his best receiver isn’t playing. -Noah Gerringer

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) (Last week: NR)

In week one the Jaguars were able to ride their new rookie workhorse Leonard Fournette to victory, being able to hide their question mark at the QB slot, Blake Bortles. This week, not so much. Bortles ended up having two interceptions in the game and a garbage time touchdown to Allen Hurns. They weren’t able to hand the ball of to Fournette due to the negative gamescript and chasing the Titans the whole game, who would win 37-16. Self-proclaimed “Sacksonville” went AWOL this game only recording one sack on Mariota and the Titans. Bortles will have to pick up his play in the first half next week if they want a chance to win. -Taylor Story 

27. Chicago Bears (0-2) (Last week: NR)

Let the Trubisky calls begin. The Bears played the Bucs this past Sunday and looked overmatched. Mike Glennon didn’t play awful on Sunday statistically, but his costly interceptions held the Bears offense from really going. A QBR of 23 and two picks isn’t going to get it done in the NFL and Bears fans know that. Chicago wants to give Glennon time, but with a fanbase that hasn’t seen good quarterback play in years, it is naturally going to cause anxiousness. The new “Secret Weapon” was somewhat held in check with only 13 yards rushing, but had 55 receiving providing an adequate third down option for the Bears this season The defense couldn’t seem to figure everything out and put up a complete performance like they did last week against the Falcons. Winston’s performance didn’t wow anyone, but he was consistent against a bad Bears defense. -Aman Hyrams 

28. Cleveland Browns (0-2) (Last week: NR)

The Browns picked up right where they left off last year: losing. Although the losses were tightly contested for the most part, Cleveland is starting a rookie quarterback in Deshone Kizer who left Sunday’s game earlier with migraines. Kizer showed promise in the preseason but the regular season is a whole different world. Along with Myles Garrett, the Browns have a bright future, but they will not be winning anytime soon. -Eric Jackson 

29. San Francisco 49ers (0-2) (Last week: NR)

The 49ers have started their season 0-2 after losing a heartbreaker to their rival Seahawks and getting pummeled by the Carolina Panthers 23-3. The San Francisco defense has played relatively well, allowing just 299.5 yards and 17.5 points per game, each good for 10th in the NFL. Their offensive woes have been their Achilles Heel however. They have amassed only 24 first downs and average barely 230 yards per game. Their opponents have held the ball over 11 minutes more and the 49ers have scored only 12 total points. Journeyman quarterback Brian Hoyer has completed 62 percent of his passes but has thrown two interceptions and no touchdowns. As a matter of fact, the 49ers have failed to score any offensive touchdowns so far, a feat matched only by the Cincinnati Bengals. 49ers’ kicker Robbie Gould has kicked a perfect four out of four field goals, including one from 44 yards. But San Francisco will need to do much better than four field goals in two games if they want to be successful this season. -Brooks Maynard 

30. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) (Last week: NR)

I’m not going to write much about the Bengals because there is not much to say. They’re pretty bad right now. Andy Dalton was supposed to be the next messiah for Cincinnati and I don’t think anyone told him. Luckily, the Bengals just fired their Offensive Coordinator Ken Zampese. Maybe that’s why Dalton has been so bad. Whatever the case may be, Dalton has weapons in AJ Green and Giovani Bernard. The Bengals have an offense that can play with anyone. Whether or not they actually decide to use that offense will be determined in week three…Well, that’s against the Packers so we’ll give them until week four against the Browns. -Noah Gerringer

31. Indianapolis Colts (0-2) (Last week: NR)

Without their injury-prone but talented franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts have looked lost so far in 2017. Their starter for their week two loss against the Cardinals, Jacoby Brissett, simply is not that good. He is a solid backup, but until they get their guy Luck back, don’t expect them to start winning. The Colts offense as a whole has been stagnant. They are 27th in points/game (11), 29th in total yards/game (245.5), 25th in pass yards/game(170.0) and 24th in rushing yards/game (75.5). There hasn’t yet been a bright spot on the field for Indianapolis, but the good news is that the AFC South is arguably the weakest conference in football. So if Brissett could manage to win a couple games before Luck gets back, and he comes back relatively soon, they might still have a slim shot at the division. -Silas Albright 

32. New York Jets (0-2) (Last week: NR)

The Jets have looked inept through their first two games of the season. Opening up against the Bills in Buffalo, quarterback Josh McCown threw two interceptions and their leading rusher, Bilal Powell, gained only 22 yards. Their defense allowed 408 yards of offense and Buffalo went on to win, 21-12. While the Jets played a good Raiders team on the road in week two, their play still left much to be desired. McCown added two more interceptions to his total and they lost two fumbles. Matt Forte added a small bright spot, carrying the ball nine times for 53 yards and catching four balls for 38 yards, but the Jets were steamrolled 45-20. The Jets have managed only 28 first downs, compared to 44 by their opponents and they are currently third to last in the NFL in yards allowed per game at 409, including a game against an unimpressive Bills offense. The Jets will need to turn it around quickly before their season gets out of hand. -Brooks Maynard 

Rankings By: Jason Huber, Brooks Maynard, Tyler Hotz, Silas Albright, Eric Jackson, Shane Harvell, Aman Hyrams, Michael Pigg, Ian Taylor, Noah Gerringer and Taylor Story 

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NFL Power Rankings: Week 2